Steve Jobs’ Explanation Of What The “i” Means In iPhone And Other Apple Products
Apple’s naming conventions have historically had some interesting stories behind them. There was the Lisa computer, famously named after Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ daughter, and the iMac, introduced in 1998 as the first Apple product with the “i” prefix, which was famously named so because of its connection to the internet.
Or, so we thought. In fact, the lowercase “i” that became the prefix for the iPod and iPhone, amongst many other software and hardware products of Apple, may actually have had little to do with the word “internet,” though we may never truly know with 100% clarity.
The latest to try and delve into the reason behind the names of Apple’s product is The Independent, which quotes Jobs as both confirming the reason for the lowercase character and adding a little wiggle room at the same time.
“Even though this is a full-blooded Macintosh, we are targeting this for the number one use that consumers tell us they want a computer for, which is to get on the Internet — simply, and fast,” he said at the time. “And that is what this product is targeted for.”
“’i’ also means some other things to us,” he said. “We are a personal computer company, and although this product is born to network, it also is a beautiful stand-alone product. We are targeting it also for education. They want to buy these. And it is perfect for most of the things they do in instruction.”
Besides internet, Apple’s “i” prefix also stood for individual, instruct, inform and inspire, as can be seen in one of the slides from Steve Jobs keynote introducing the first iMac in 1998.
So while iMac was likely borne out of the machine’s love of the internet, it doesn’t necessarily jive with the iPod, for example. With the release of the iPhone and then later with iPad, the idea of the character referring to the internet once again made plenty of sense, but with Apple seemingly dumping the convention when naming the Apple TV and Apple Watch, who knows whether we’ve seen the last of the big product launches with that world famous “i” at the beginning of its name?